2016 Twins Minor League All-Star Team
Image courtesy of Seth StohsRead through our choices for each position. Check out how each of our writers voted. And then discuss and cast your votes as well.
Let’s get started.
Catcher: Mitch Garver - Chattanooga Lookouts, Rochester Red Wings
Acquired: Twins 9th round draft pick in 2013 out of New Mexico
2016 Stats: .270/.342/422 (.764) with 30-2B, 12-HR, 74 RBIs.
Garver was the Twins Daily Minnesota Twins Daily 2014 Hitter of the Year. In 2015, he played in Ft. Myers before having a very successful stint in the Arizona Fall League. He did this Q&Awhile on his way to his honeymoon in December. He returned to big league camp as a non-roster invitee for the second straight year. He began the season in AA Chattanooga where he hit .257/.334/.419 (.753) and threw out over 50% of would-be base stealers in 95 games. He moved up to Rochester for the final 22 games. He hit .329/.381/.434 (.815).
In the season, he was the starting catcher for the Southern League All-Star Game. He was #2 in the Twins Daily Hitter of the Month in July when he hit .311 with a .905 OPS.
ETA - June 2017
First Base: Zander Wiel - Cedar Rapids Kernels
Acquired: Twins 12th round draft pick in 2015 out of Vanderbilt
2016 Stats: .259/.333/.459 (.792) with 27 doubles, 8 triples, 19 home runs and 86 RBIs.
Wiel signed with the Twins last year but missed nearly a month of the season after being hit by a pitch. He spent his first full season in minor league ball playing in Cedar Rapids. After a slow start, Wiel took off in the second half of the season. In July, he hit .310/.407/.660 (1.067) with nine double and eight homers. He was named the Twins, Twins Daily’s and the Midwest League’s Hitter of the Month for July. During the season, the 23-year-old had a nine, a ten and twelve-game hitting streaks. On the final day of the season, he hit two home runs and drove in seven runs. His 86 RBIs led the Midwest League.
ETA - August 2019
Second Base: Luis Arraez - Cedar Rapids Kernels
Acquired: International signing out of Venezuela in November 2013
2016 Stats: .347/.386/.444 (.830) with 31 doubles, 3 triples 3 home runs and 66 RBIs.
Arraez came to the States for the 2015 season. He played well in the GCL. It was somewhat surprising when he began this season in Cedar Rapids. He turned 19 years old after Opening Day. He was remarkably good and remarkably consistent throughout the full season. His monthly batting averages starting in April were .313, .340, .330, .306, .425, and .333. He was a multi-hit game machine. He had 34 two-hit games, 13 three-hit games, three four-hit games, and a five hit game. In the first two Kernels playoff games, he had a three-hit game and a four-hit game. His .347 batting average led the Midwest League. He hit .351 (.839) against right-handed pitchers and .333 (.800) against left-handers. Of his 514 plate appearances, only seven of them came against pitchers who were younger than him.
ETA: September 2019
Third Base: Nelson Molina - Cedar Rapids Kernels
Acquired: Twins 11th round draft pick in 2013 out of high school in Puerto Rico
2016 Stats: .300/.374/.381 (.755) with 15 doubles, three triples, two home runs and 43 RBIs.
In his three seasons in the rookie leagues, the Puerto Rican infielder never hit over .243. At 6-3 and 170 pounds, he looks the part of a shortstop. He had a strong spring training and was playing well in Extended Spring. At the end of April, he received the promotion to Cedar Rapids. He immediately started playing well. He posted an .829 OPS in May, and then again in two of the next three months. He had a twelve-game hitting streak in August. In late July, he had a stretch of five straight games with two hits (and 7 out of 8). He won’t turn 21 until after the 2017 season begins. In late May, I chatted with Molina for this fun story.
ETA: April 2020
Shortstop: Nick Gordon - Ft. Myers Miracle
Acquired: Twins 1st round draft pick in 2014 out of high school in Orlando
2016 Stats: .291/.335/.386 (.721) with 23 doubles, six triples, three homers and 52 RBIs.
The fifth overall pick of the 2014 draft has been pushed in his first three pro seasons. After signing, he went to Elizabethton. He spent 2015 in Cedar Rapids. He started out strong in April when he hit .333 and was third in our hitter of the month rankings. He was the first Twins Player of the Week. He also hit .330 in July. He started and shortstop in the Florida State League All Star Game in Ft. Myers. He had 34 multi-hit games during the season. In late August, he had a five hit game against Palm Beach. He had two four-hit games during the season as well. Gordon will turn 21 in October. As one of the youngest players in the Florida State League, he had just two at-bats all season against pitchers who were younger than him.
ETA: May 2019
Outfielder: LaMonte Wade - Cedar Rapids Kernels, Ft. Myers Miracle
Acquired: Twins 9th round draft pick in 2015 out of Maryland
2016 Stats: .293/.402/.438 (.841) with 14 doubles, four triples, eight home runs and 51 RBIs.
LaMonte Wade began his first full professional season in Cedar Rapids. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month in April when he hit .316/.430/.542 (.972) for the Kernels. He started the Midwest League All-Star Game in Cedar Rapids before being promoted to Ft. Myers. In July, he hit .341/.400/.538 (.938) which was fourth in the Hitter of the Month rankings. He spent a couple of stints on the disabled list which is where his season ended. Against right-handers, he hit .287/.384/.439 (.823). The left-handed batter hit .315/.455/.438 (.893) against southpaws. On the season, he walked 54 times and struck out just 44. For his one-plus seasons career, he now has 101 walks to go with 80 strikeouts. The outfielder will turn 23 on New Years Day.
ETA: June 2019
Outfielder: Zack Granite - Chattanooga Lookouts
Acquired: Twins 14th round draft pick in 2013 out of Seton Hall
2016 Stats: .295/.347/.382 (.729) with 18 doubles, eight triples, four homers and 52 RBIs.
In 2015, Granite began in Cedar Rapids. However, after April - in which he was the Twins Daily Hitter of the Month - he was promoted to Ft. Myers. He made the jump to AA to start the 2016 season and immediately was an instigator at the top of the Lookouts lineup. Not only did he get on base, he hit for more power than he has in the past. If he got on first, he was on the move. His 56 stolen bases led all of minor league baseball. On April 20th, he stole four bases in one game. He began June with 12 hits in his first six games. He had a 15-game hitting streak in June and finished behind only Daniel Palka for the Hitter of the Month in June. During the month, he hit .363/.420/.529 (.949). He finished fourth for that award in August. Granite posted a .296 (.744) line against right-handers and a .291 (.684) line against left-handers. It was the first time in his pro career that he hit better against right-handers than left-handers (more specifics in this story on Granite). Following the season, he was named the Lookouts 2016 MVP. On Saturday, he will turn 24. (More on his Rock Solid 2016 season, with quotes from him, here)
ETA: July 2017
Outfielder - Daniel Palka - Chattanooga Lookouts, Rochester Red Wings
Drafted: Diamondbacks 3rd round draft pick in 2013 out of Georgia Tech
Acquired: in a trade with Arizona in November, 2015 for Chris Herrmann
2016 stats (AA and AAA combined): .254/.327/.521 (.848), 24 doubles, 4 triples, 34 home runs, 90 RBIs.
A year ago in High-A, Palka hit .280 with 36 doubles, 29 home runs and 90 RBI. He even stole 24 bases. He came to the Twins and put on a show in his first Twins spring training game when he hit two home runs. He began the season in AA where he hit .270 (.894) with 12 doubles, 21 home runs and 65 RBI. He was the Twins Daily HItter of the Month in June after finishing runner up in April. He was also the Twins and the Southern League’s Player of the Month for June. He played in the Southern League All-Star Game. In early July, he was promoted to AAA Rochester. In his first game, he became the first Red Wings player to hit a homer in his first at-bat with the team since Terry Tiffee in 2004. He added a double and a second home run in that game. In 54 games with the Red Wings, he hit .232 (.779) with 12 doubles, 13 homers and 25 RBI. His 90 RBIs led the organization. His 34 home runs was tops in the Twins minor leagues and fourth overall in minor league baseball this year. He will turn 25 in October, and in November, he’ll be added to the 40-man roster. He was recently named Twins Daily's 2016 Minor League Hitter of the Year.
ETA: June 2017
Designated Hitter: Adam Brett Walker - Rochester Red Wings
Acquired: Twins 3rd round draft pick in 2012 out of Jacksonville
2016 Stats: .243/.305/.479 (.784) with 22 doubles, five triples, 27 home runs and 75 RBIs.
In the five seasons that Walker has been in the Twins system, 2016 is the first time his team did not make the playoffs. It was also the first time that he did not lead his league in home runs. He finished second in the International League and fourth in extra base hits. And first in strikeouts. Of his 27 home runs, three tied the game and nine gave the Red Wings a lead. His 30 multi-hit games were tied with Wilfredo Tovar for the team lead. On May 21st, he hit three home runs. On June 30th, he hit an extra-innings, walk-off grand slam for the Red Wings. He has hit 25 or more homers in all four of his full minor league seasons. In August, he was the Twins Daily Hitter of the Month. He did a Q&A for Twins Daily last December.
ETA: July 2017
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher: Fernando Romero - Cedar Rapids Kernels, Ft. Myers Miracle
Acquired: International signing out of the Dominican Republic in February 2012
2016 Stats: 9-3, 1.89 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9, 9.0 K/9
Fernando Romero made a name for himself in the Gulf Coast League in 2013 when he posted a 1.60 ERA in 45 innings. Plus, he was throwing 95 mph. In 2014, he was promoted to Cedar Rapids in mid-May. However, after three starts, he was hurt and had Tommy John surgery. He missed two years,in part due to a knee surgery too. This spring, he was throwing 96+. He began in extended spring and was called back up to Cedar Rapids. He made five starts for the Kernels and went 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP before being promoted to the Miracle. In 11 starts with Ft. Myers, he went 5-2 with a 1.88 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP before being shut down in late August. He was #3 in the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month in June, July and August. He won’t turn 21 until Christmas, and most will agree, there isn’t a Twins minor league pitcher with a higher ceiling than Romero.
ETA: May 2018
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher: Stephen Gonsalves - Ft. Myers Miracle, Chattanooga Lookouts
Acquired: Twins 4th round pick in 2014 out of high school in California
2016 Stats: 13-5, 2.06 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, 9.7 K/9
What a year 2016 was for Gonsalves! He began in Ft. Myers where he went 5-4 with a 2.33 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, and 9.0 K/9. He pitched an inning in the Florida State League All Star game. Then he was promoted to Chattanooga where he went 8-1 with a 1.82 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9 and 10.8 K/9. He was especially strong in August when he went 4-0 with a 0.28 ERA and a 0.74 WHIP. Right-handers posted a .174 (.511) line against him, while left-handers hit .194 (.582) against him. He was the Twins and Twins Daily’s Starting Pitcher of the Month in April, and then again in August. He was named Chattanooga’s Pitcher of the Year. He was also the Twins Daily Starting Pitcher of the Year. Baseball America and MLB Pipeline both named him to their 2016 first-team All Prospect teams. He was also on Baseball America’s AA Classification team. He will represent the Twins in the Arizona Fall League.
ETA: June 2017
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher: Trevor Hildenberger - Ft. Myers Miracle, Chattanooga Lookouts
Acquired: Twins 22nd round draft pick in 2014 out of California-Berkeley
2016 Stats: 3-4, 19 Saves, 0.75 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 1.1 BB/9, 8.9 K/9
After being named the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year in 2015, he was again the choice in 2016. He began the season with six games in Ft. Myers. By the end of April, he was in Chattanooga. He was consistent throughout the year. In April, he had a 0.87 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. In May, he had a 1.20 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP. In June, his ERA was 0.87 with a 0.58 WHIP. In July, he didn’t give up a run while posting a 0.73 WHIP. In a nine-game stretch in June, he went 2-0 with seven saves. Unfortunately, he was shut down in early August with elbow tendinitis. He will turn 26 in mid-December and if healthy could be given a shot to make the Twins roster early in 2017.
ETA: May 2017
Left-Handed Relief Pitcher: Michael Theofanopoulos - Cedar Rapids Kernels, Ft. Myers Miracle
Acquired: Twins 30th round draft pick in 2014 out of California-Berkeley
2016 Stats: 5-3, 3 Saves, 2.20 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 4.7 BB/9, 11.6 K/9
Our voters stayed with the Cal-Berkeley-relievers-who-have-long-last-name theme in the bullpen. The left-hander began the season back in Cedar Rapids for the first half. In May, he had a streak of 11 games and 20.2 innings without allowing an earned run. He was named the Twins Daily Relief Pitcher of the Month. With the Kernels, he posted a 1.67 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9 and 12.5 K/9. Right before the Midwest League All-Star game, he was promoted to Ft. Myers. In 23 games, he posted a 2.73 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP, 4.9 BB/9 and 10.6 K/9. Theofanopoulos turned 24 in August.
ETA: August 2019
So there you have it. The first annual Twins Daily Minor League All Star team. Who would get your vote? Below are the votes/selections of our Twins Daily Minor League writers:
Seth: C-Garver, 1B-Wiel, 2B-Arraez, 3B-Molina, SS-Gordon, OF-Granite, Wade, Palka, DH-Walker, LH SP-Gonsalves, RH SP-Romero, LH RP-Theofanopoulos, RH RP-Hildenberger
Jeremy: C-Garver, 1B-Wiel, 2B-Arraez, 3B-Beresford, SS-Gordon, OF-Granite, Wade, Palka, DH-Walker, LH SP-Gonsalves, RH SP-Romero, LH RP-Vasquez, RH RP-Hildenberger
Cody: C-Garver, 1B-Wiel, 2B-Arraez, 3B-Molina, SS-Gordon, OF-Palka, Walker, Buxton, DH-Vargas, LH SP-Gonsalves, RH RP-Berrios, LH RP-Theofanopoulos, RH RP-Hildenberger
Steve: C-Garver, 1B-Wiel, 2B-Arraez, 3B-Molina, SS-Gordon, OF-Granite, Wade, Palka, DH-Walker, LH SP-Gonsalves, RH SP-Romero, LH RP-Theofanopoulos, RH RP-Hildenberger
Eric: C-Garver, 1B-Diaz, 2B-Arraez, 3B-Molina, SS-Gordon, OF-Granite, Wade, Palka, DH-Vargas, LH SP-Gonsalves, RH SP-Berrios, LH RP-Theofanopoulos, RH RP-Chargois
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